If you’re a comics fan travelling to Barcelona this summer, then you could do worse than to take a road trip to nearby Puis-reig and visit the Biblioteca Guillem de Berguedà, now host to a permanent exhibition of the work of artist Àngel Badia Camps, who died earlier this year, aged 89.
After establishing himself as an artist in the 1950s in Spain, Camp’s work first appeared in the UK in Valentine, in 1961. Over the next few years, he contributed strips and art to Serenade, Roxy and True Life Library.
Inspired by Jorge Longaron, his fellow artists in the Selecciones Ilustradas studio set the visual tone of British romance comics for over 20 years – and Camps soon proved to be one the very best. Camps’ strip work – spanning 1961 to 1967 – is almost indistinguishable from Longaron.
“He mixed a thrillingly loose and expressive line with an inventive and sophisticated sense of composition,” notes David Roach, author of Masters of Spanish Comic Book Art. “His girls were the very epitome of ‘the Spanish look’ – heavy-lidded, thickly mascara’d eyes, big hair, big lips and lithe, languid bodies.”
He is perhaps better known in the UK – and indeed, elsewhere, as a cover artist, producing hundreds of covers for various British titles starting with the Sexton Blake Library in 1960, followed by work on titles such as True Life Library, Star Love, Love Story Library, Oracle, Pop Pic Library, Charm, Young Lovers and more.
Situated in the Ramon Llobet room, the Biblioteca Guillem de Berguedà’s exhibition features 41 drawings and three paintings, donated to his home town by Camps, for display for at least 25 years.
A report on the Spanish news site Regio 7 indicates Ángel Badia, who devoted his later life to painting, made the bequest over a year before his death to transfer part of his work to his hometown. The works were chosen by the artist himself and his son, Jordi, organised by stages in his long career, and techniques.
Despite being born in the Puig-reig area, Àngel Badia Camps lived away from the town for all his all his professional life, although he maintained links with it. The news site NacioBergueda notes the Badia i Camps family was forced to leave Puig-reig in Franco’s time. Angel Badia’s father had been city councillor during the Second Republic, left for the first time in exile and, upon returning, the regime prohibited him from settling in his town – and he was forced to live in Barcelona.
Àngel Badia Camps work graces the covers of a huge variety of books, comics and magazines and
You can visit the exhibition during library hours. The Biblioteca Guillem de Berguedà is a municipal facility that has the support of the Diputació de Barcelona, for the provision of reading services, access to the Internet, and access to all kinds of information. It is also an important cultural centre that offers a stable program for children and adults, including presentations by comic creators.